Grow It Forward, Wisconsin's largest not-for-profit hydroponic farm is hosting an urban farming experience at Manitowoc Public Library as part of their Family Activity Night. On Tuesday, May 23, attendees will have the opportunity to learn about hydroponics, a soilless growing technique, and explore its benefits compared to traditional farming methods. The event, titled "Lettuce Harvest Together with Grow It Forward," aims to engage the community in sustainable agriculture practices while promoting access to fresh food.

Nina Loomis, Urban Farm Manager at Grow It Forward, will be leading the urban farming experience. Loomis, who oversees the management of 51 hydroponic units, is passionate about providing dignified access to good food for those in need. The hydroponic farm at Grow It Forward has become a vital resource for the community, consistently yielding thousands of pounds of fresh produce throughout the year.

Loomis's journey into urban farming began during her time at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, where she encountered the Fork Farms hydroponic unit known as the Flex Farm. The success of the Harvest Room, which provided hundreds of pounds of lettuce to the campus catering company, sparked her interest in sustainable farming practices. Following her graduation in January 2022, Loomis joined Fork Farms as an intern, gaining extensive knowledge and experience in hydroponic farming. It was during this internship that she discovered Grow It Forward's hydroponic farm and was drawn to their mission of providing dignified access to good food for people in need.

Founded in 2014 by Amber Daugs, Grow It Forward has expanded its initiatives to include various programs that promote food access and community engagement. The organization now encompasses a community garden, a 51-unit hydroponic farm, Cafe Harmony, a community food center and pantry, a catering service, and more. Grow It Forward's relentless efforts have enabled them to provide dignified food access to approximately 1,400 individuals in Manitowoc County.

The urban farming experience at Manitowoc Public Library aims to educate participants about hydroponic farming and empower them to grow their own food in new and innovative ways. The session will feature a live Flex Farm, allowing attendees to gain hands-on experience in harvesting, transplanting seedlings, and managing water quality. Participants will also have the opportunity to learn about the potential for urban farming in a commercial setting within Grow It Forward's hydroponic facility.

Nina Loomis encourages individuals of all ages to attend "Lettuce Harvest Together" and discover the joys of urban farming. The event aims to dispel the notion that having a green thumb is a prerequisite for growing food and emphasizes the importance of community involvement in food production. The experience is open to everyone, and no prior farming knowledge is required.

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